How to Build a Stand-Up Bass

Written by david mcguffin
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Musical instruments can be extremely expensive, especially if you are investing in something you are not sure whether you will pursue in the long run. Building your own instruments, such as a stand-up bass, can be a cheap way to explore new creative endeavours. While you can choose from a variety of designs, a good start is to try building a stand-up bass using a washtub for the body.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Wood flooring panel for the neck
  • Tuners
  • Metal washtub
  • Smaller wood pieces for braces
  • Wood glue
  • Bass strings
  • Wood for a top
  • Clamps

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Cut the fingerboard, also known as the neck. Using a long piece of wood flooring, design the fingerboard so that a cross-section has a trapezoidal shape with a flat space on top. Round out the edges. When you position the fingerboard onto the wash tub, make sure it is at an angle so that if you are holding it, the neck leans toward you. You will need to put some spacers of wood near the bottom of the neck, where it attaches to the wash tub, so you can achieve that angle. The neck's length should be about twice the diameter of the wash tub.

  2. 2

    Place the tuners on the top of the neck. You will want the tuners to be slightly offset from each other so each of the strings has room to get tied in to the tuners without bunching up right next to each other.

  3. 3

    Attach the neck to a block of wood that acts as the main support and runs the length of the wash tub. Make sure the supporting board is securely attached at both parts of the tub with screws.

  4. 4

    Add another piece of wood coming down from the side of the wash tub below the neck. This piece will act as the foot on which the bass will pivot while being held upright. The foot needs to extend from the neck support board mentioned in the previous step.

  5. 5

    Put small blocks of wood as braces near the top of the wash tub for the wooden top piece to rest on. Glue the top to the braces, using clamps, or weights evenly distributed to make sure the glue sets well with the top.

  6. 6

    Set a bridge for the strings to rest on above the top. The bridge needs to be tall enough to create some distance between the strings and the neck. You will also need some reinforced stays for the strings to attach to on the bottom side of the instrument, near the foot.

  7. 7

    Drill a hole in the back of the instrument for the sound-pole to span the distance from the top to the back of the body. The sound-pole allows for vibrations to travel to the rest of the instrument. Also drill some holes in the top so that sound can come out.

  8. 8

    Attach strings and tune your new instrument. You may want to progressively tune it so you are not making drastic changes in the tension supported by the instrument itself, just in case something does not hold.

Tips and warnings

  • Have a blueprint for what you want to do. Having extra materials around can also be helpful in case you make a wrong cut.

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